Turner Gill

Texas A&M
The Aggies finally decided to part ways with head coach Mike Sherman. He was fired early this morning. The Aggies went just 25-25 in his four years at the helm. Some think current Houston coach, Kevin Sumlin, could be his replacement. Jeff Toole, the chief financial officer for the Aggie athletic department, recently admitted to being critical of A&M president R. Bowen Loftin by using an alias on the popular website TexAgs.com. Under the name UtayAg, Toole called Loftin a “putz,” and a “hopelessly under-qualified puppet.”

Defensive end Frank Alexander had to be helped off the field after an injury last week, but head coach Bob Stoops expects him to play going forward. Wide receiver Jaz Reynolds did not play against Iowa State last week because of suspension but he is also projected to be back in the starting lineup. Junior quarterback Landry Jones made his 35th career start for the Sooners last weekend, moving him in to second place on OU’s all-time list. It was also Jones’ 32nd consecutive start.

The Bears’ 66-42 rout of the Red Raiders was the first win for the school in 15 tries. Running back Terrance Ganaway carried the ball for a career-high of 42 times for 246 yards against the Red Raiders. Ganaway also sustained a concussion but returned after sitting out for just a few plays. The Bears will have a chance to win nine games in a season for the first time since the 1986.

Texas Tech
Cornerback Happiness Osunde suffered a serious knee injury last week. He will be evaluated for possible surgery this week. Running back DeAndre Washington and wide receiver Alex Torres will both undergo offseason knee surgery and could miss spring practice. The Red Raider defense gave up an average of 259 yards rushing per game over the course of the year, by far the most in the conference.

A terrible season for the Jayhawks came to a close last week as they finished 0-9 in conference play for the first time since 2002. Six of those losses came by 30 points or more, perhaps why coach Turner Gill was given the pink slip this week after just two seasons with the program. No candidates have been named to replace Gill as of yet. The Jayhawks’ defense ranked last nationally in not just one but two categories: total yards (516.4 per game) and points (43.7 per game).

After picking off his third pass of the season last week, cornerback Quandre Diggs is one pick shy of tying the UT freshman record for interceptions. Running back Joe Bergeron sat out against the Aggies as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury. Texas has held 10 out of 11 opponents under their season rushing averages this year. The Longhorns hold a 73-23-4 advantage all-time over the Bears, although the Bears’ last win of the series came just last year in Austin.

Kansas State
Head coach Bill Snyder is among the finalists chosen for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, annually given to the nation’s most outstanding coach. He could even add a share of the Big 12 conference title to his already impressive resume this season. If the Wildcats defeat Iowa State and the Sooners lose to the Cowboys, both Oklahoma teams along with the Wildcats would finish in a three-way tie for the conference crown. However, if this occurs the Sooners would represent the conference in the Fiesta Bowl.

Iowa State
The Cyclones recently offered a scholarship to junior college transfer Cory Morrissey. Morrissey is a 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end that is transferring from Iowa Western Community College and will be able to participate next season. Cyclones’ head coach Paul Rhoads weighed in on the recent firing of Kansas coach Turner Gill, saying “it’s bad for our profession, coaches getting two years and then being let go. We’re in our third year [at Iowa State] and we’re just now starting to see the physical differences needed to compete in [the Big 12].”

Kansas head coach Turner Gill leads the Jayhawks onto the field. Gill, a longtime winner, was expected to turn the Kansas program around, but he hasn't been able to thus far. (Photo courtesy of Mike Gunnoe of the Kansan)

Turner Gill knows what it means to be successful.

Gill was a three-year starter at Nebraska, leading the team to a 28-2 record in his time there, along with three Big 8 championships to boot.

Gill then played professional baseball and quarterbacked for the CFL for a while before returning to the college ranks to coach at his alma mater. Eventually he landed the head coaching job at Buffalo, and in his four years there significantly improved the program, leading them to their first MAC championship and first bowl win in half a century.

That performance at Buffalo landed him the head coaching gig at Kansas, replacing Mark Mangino after the 2009 season. When he took the job, he made it clear right away that his goal was to bring Kansas a winning tradition.

“Our purpose of this program is to bring this program to a point where we will sustain a winning football tradition year after year,” Gill said in his opening press conference.

In his first season with the Jayhawks the team went 3-9, but the season was highlighted by a marquee 28-25 win over No. 15 Georgia Tech. While the team struggled most of the season, there were still positive signs. Gill’s system was implemented, his change of attitude talk was creating a buzz, and Gill still firmly believed that they were making steady progress.

“I want to say our fans about why they should be excited about next season,” Gill said at the end of last season. “One we understand our team better as a staff. We will have better speed. We will have better depth. Our staff knows how to build a winning program ... I have brought people in on our staff who know how to build a winning program.”

Going into the 2011 season hopes were high for the Jayhawks, as they looked to build on Gill’s first season.

However, the team has struggled.

They started off the year with a pair of close wins against sub-par competition, McNeese State and Northern Illinois.

From there the team has quickly fallen off losing by an average of 32.6 points a game in their five-game stretch.

To make matters worse the last of these losses was a 51-21 drubbing from rival Kansas State last weekend, where the Jayhawks were embarrassed and clearly out-manned.

This kind of loss has seemed to be a theme in the Kansas season thus far. There are numerous moments in which the team just looks plain terrible and few bright spots to show that the team is continuing to improve.

Which brought up the question after the game on Saturday of whether Kansas is really getting better this year, and Gill was honest.

“I think today maybe we took a little step back as far as improving,” Gill said. “I think there are some things there. A lot of things that are coming to the surface is our inexperience. There’s a little bit of a temporary setback. It’s one football game and you get ready to go for the next one.”

Gill’s assessment that the Jayhawks are moving backward in terms of progress, or are at least stagnant in improvement, have brought up numerous questions about the future of Gill’s job in Lawrence from the fans and the media.

Gill’s career prospects didn’t sound much better out of the mouth of Kansas Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger, who said Gill’s progress is being monitored on “week-by week basis.” Zenger went on to say that he would not make a final decision until the end of the season.

Gill and his players will not give up though; they will continue to play hard the rest of the way. If the Jayhawks can manage to win one or two more games, they will buy their coach one more season to really put in to action the principals that he wanted to instill. Their first opportunity to turn the season around will come Saturday against Texas, in which a win will give him something to stand upon.

But Gill knows what needs to be done, and knows what the consequences will be if he does not get the Big 12 win he needs.

“That’s life; that’s football,” Gill said. “You have to have the mindset that you have to improve. We have five more opportunities to do that, and we’re fortunate right now that we have those. There’s going to come a time where you don’t have those opportunities anymore, but that’s what it’s about.”